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Sarah Ward in her Calgary living room on May 31, 2018.Jeff McIntosh

Interior designer Sarah Ward is eclectic in her approach – whether furnishing a client’s space, or her own.

“Our work really celebrates the details, so we don’t tend to have a specific style. We really like exploring all sorts of different avenues,” says the Saskatoon-born Calgarian, who has had her own practice for five years.

A portrait of the couple’s late dog Margot hangs near a photo of McDougall’s grandfather’s high-school rugby team.Jeff McIntosh

That means each new challenge is taken as a “clean slate,” and every customer ends up with a space that’s “uniquely theirs.” But curiosity and exploration come naturally to Ward. “When you’re a designer, you’re inspired by so many things that you can’t help but be intrigued by a variety of different styles and objects.”

Eclecticism at home – in the Craftsman-style, 1920s-built bungalow Ward shares with husband, Dave McDougall, and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Oliver, in Calgary’s Bankview neighbourhood – manifests as objects, artworks, mementoes, patterns, furnishings and finishes that add up to more than the sum of parts. They are evidence of a life lived and memories accumulated.

“Eclecticism comes through because we have such a wide variety of interests,” Ward says.

“There’s lots of good things in that room,” says the designer about her living space. At its heart is the black terracotta tile fireplace. While not operational, “we think it’s really striking and interesting and it gives a really great feature to the room.”

The rest of the space and its contents were assembled over time. “The living room in its current iteration probably took five years to get to that point,” Ward says (they’ve lived in the house for eight). A portrait of the couple’s previous dog, another Cavalier named Margot, now deceased, by local artist Kate Schutz, is joined by a photo of McDougall’s grandfather’s high-school rugby team. Over the mantel, there’s also a photograph of the Art Deco swimming pool at Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier by Jeremy Kohm (available through A vintage Union Jack flag in the corner reminds Ward of her parents, who came to Canada from England in the 1970s. “We have a fondness for the U.K.,” she says.

A cotton rag owl by artist Anna-Wili Highfield sits on a shelf in the living room.Jeff McIntosh

These specialty items are accompanied by vintage finds and some newly purchased staples. The sofa and bookcase are from Crate and Barrel, the wool rug from Dwell Studio and the magazine rack from local shop Bex Vintage. The mid-century candlesticks, collected over the years, are made of solid wood. “They make for nice objects because they have such interesting forms,” Ward says. A cotton rag owl by Australian artist Anna-Wili Highfield and papier-mâché zebra head from Anthropologie bring a touch of the wild (albeit refined). “I love the idea of having things in your home that make you smile,” Ward says. To top it off, she adds a liberal dose of pattern, as seen in the rug, cushions and window coverings. “There’s only so many colours you can throw at a room. So pattern is the other way that we bring in the visual interest.”

The couple has collected several mid-century solid wood candlesticks over the years.Jeff McIntosh

“Too often people think that there’s rules that need to be followed, and that’s really not the case. I think a space should be really authentically yours,” she says, dispensing some friendly advice for amateur decorators and designers. “If you like something or you’re interested in something, that is what should take precedence. Especially in your home. Your personal space should really reflect you and your family and the lifestyle that you live. And I think being comfortable with that and letting that shine through is really important.”

And given that the space is not solely Ward’s, but shared with her partner, their varied interests and predilections refract and sparkle manifold. “He does have an opinion on things for sure,” she says of McDougall. “I don’t just get free rein.”

Get the Look


Petrie 100” Grande Midcentury sofa, $3,299 at Crate and Barrel (


Black Nixon reversible Peruvian flat weave rug, US$2,795 at Jonathan Adler (


Pups wall art, US$598 at Anthropologie (


Syroco gold and black brutalist clock, $195 from Bex Vintage (


The Vintage House by Park B. Smith Union Jack Tapestry oblong throw pillow, $44.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond (

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